“Keep well informed of the condition of your flocks and pay attention to your herds”.
I am finding this discussion of ancient boundaries going deep and wide. The more thought I give it , the more I notice the value of the many facets of these taken-for-granted, often ignored principles. Like many things we presume upon, their value is not fully appreciated until they erode, are dismantled or fail. In the case of finances, for those who were raised to manage money wisely, they may not realize how much that wisdom is worth until they allow those principles to slip. For those who may not have had the benefit of basic money management training, they may wonder why cash is always departing instead of accumulating.
Like many things, it is not that mysterious once you know what to do. For many, flying a plane is mysterious and elusive. I can attest from my own experience of becoming a pilot, that with some information, training and perseverance (and of course a bit of cash), flying is no longer mysterious. It is fun, exhilarating and very cool, even magical, but not mysterious. So it is with being wise with money. Good information, basic math skills, a plan. combined with perseverance, and the money thing looses its mystery. Money becomes a true blessing and friend. It is no longer that illusive thing we chase because we need it and actually behaves! What is the key? A boundary. For this case, a budget.
Proverbs tells us to know the condition or state of our flocks and herds. In agriculture, flocks, herds and crops of any kind, represent money, wealth and provision. Those who are close to the land know how important it is to “keep well-informed” of these assets. What exactly does that involve? To put it simply, it involves:
Knowing the number, quality and quantity of the herd or crop in your possession,
Protecting them with appropriate shelter, fences and/or guardians
Nurturing and watering them
The budgeting process contains the same elements;
Having an accurate accounting of one’s assets: Cash, property and investments
Protecting these assets by stewarding them well, meaning appropriate bank and investment accounts as well as a good financial advisor.
Nurturing them by maintaining and replenishing regularly which means at least balancing the checkbook!
In the case of cash, the budget, when done well, manages what cash does: moves and flows. Ever hear of a cash flow statement? So an effective budget process will manage cash flow: The direction of the flow and how fast it flows. The goal is to manage the direction of the flow TO you rather than away from you and, that while in your care, making cash behave. I know, it seems the world and everyone in it conspires against this, and you know what? You are right! It is. So it is vital to have a proper boundary, in this case a budget, in place. If what you are doing is not working, it is time to regroup.
I suspect that many of you already know the consequences of the absence of an effective budget boundary. It may be a lack of knowledge and skills or perhaps a system you had in place is no longer working. A life event may have derailed your process. Whatever the case, there are many great plans available to help with the money and budget thing. I have found the principles at Financial Peace University to be invaluable. There is also Crown Financial Ministries or Compass Financial. The tools, support and information they provide are empowering, liberating and, if you follow them, work.
I was raised with a lot of common sense when it comes to money, but also with a some self-limiting mind-sets. I am grateful for the former and the integrity that came with it. It also laid a good foundation to push past the self-limiting ideas. Remember, there are ancient boundaries that set one free and others that serve to hem us in. In getting a better handle on the money aspect of our lives, I am freer to pursue other facets of my Stonebridge journey with fewer pitfalls, distractions and yes, worry. Events that were, in the past, a major crisis, if they occur, are now an inconvenience.
I have come to call my budgeting process, my “sheep counting time”. This is not because it puts me to sleep, but it is my time to tend to the “flocks” with which we have been entrusted. When I get a bit behind, I will tell my husband that I need to stop and make sure I know where my sheep are before moving on with other activities. Most of the time, this process is a natural part of my week and month. It took a while to get it that way. That is where perseverance comes it. I can honestly say, it is worth it and it will go a long way to a freer journey on your Stonebridge of life.
What one step can you take this week to assess the condition of your flocks this week? Please share in the comments below.